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Marci Kraft’s Christmas cactus once belonged to her great-great-great-grandmother.

“We know that it goes back to the 1860s,” Kraft’s mother, Leona Kent, said Tuesday.

Martha Kent brought the cactus to Bozeman by wagon train when her family homesteaded in Cottonwood Canyon in 1863 or 1864, Leona said. Martha carried the plant from out east, likely Pennsylvania, she said.

Since then, the red-budded cactus, which blooms each year in time for the holidays, has stayed in the family. Easy to care for, Christmas cacti are one of the longest living house plants.

“They are one of the strange things that never ever seem to peter out,” said Peggy Bechtold, greenhouse manager at Langohr’s Flowerland. “They can live a really, really, really long time.”

Leona, 76, has records documenting each ancestor who has owned the plant over the years. The cactus has gotten bigger every year, now measuring roughly 3-foot-tall by 3-foot-wide. Family members have clipped off shoots from the cactus restarting their own “relatives.”

“It’s been passed down through the family and we all have a piece,” Marci said. “I have the original plant.”

Could it last another hundred years?

“If you take good care of it, it will,” Leona said.

Amanda Ricker can be reached at or 582-2628.

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